Thursday, April 08, 2010

past, present and pondering at village station restaurant

Vintage Ad #1,085: Brett Halliday Traces the Past to the Present (and ponders the world) at Village Station Restaurant
(click here for full-size version)

A few months ago, we posted a lengthy advertorial from man-about-town Brett Halliday that lavished praise upon a new hotel. Further journeys through the back pages of the Toronto Sun have been rewarded with many more examples of his purple prose that inspire me to go the extra mile in my writing (within reason or for ultimate comedic effect). Whenever I read old Halliday pieces, I marvel at what unfolds before my eyes.

Before jumping into the "review" of today's restaurant, Halliday ponders a deep question about life that he had recently been asked:

When asked recently if I had my life to live over again, would I like to observe any changes, my answer was an emphatic no!

I have not lived through a war, experience depression, yet I have had my fair share of growing, struggling, and reaching a stage in life that has emcompassed a span of exciting events.

I have watched man stamp out disease, fly faster than the speed of sound, reach the moon, seen barren lands in Eastern countries turned into lush tropical areas of vegetation, met thousands of interesting people from Bangkok to the remote Isles of Greece, and literally been fortunate to view the wonders of the world.

We live in an age of harsh reality. Often frightening, yet most of the time, it can only be termed as exhilarating.

It is an age built to the future. Of youth as its thriving bloodstream of tomorrow, yet this is also an age of nostalgia, when we are using much of the past as a pulsating reminder of the present.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say Halliday is auditioning for a weightier writing gig, like penning public service announcements with a voice-of-God announcer investing each word with deep meaning over a slideshow of moon landings and stock travel footage to the soft strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra."

Illusions of deep philosophical thought on the world around him descend from orbit during the next two sentences:

From man's most recent as today's exploits to the outer Universe, to my immediate fling of taking the opportunity to dine in the era of the Eighteen-hundreds.

It is also a season for value.
After a brief history of dining cars, the rushing tide of kudos bestowed on the restaurant's brilliant management team begins.

Vintage Ad #1,086: The Most Exciting New Family Restaurant in Toronto
Ad, Toronto Star, December 29, 1975

According to Old Time Trains, the restaurant was operated by CP Hotels between 1975 and 1983 and was intended to be the first of a series of similar eateries. As for why the Village Station ultimately flopped:

It was not very successful for a number of reasons not the least of which was the food. Since it was owned by CP Hotels people no doubt associated that with the Royal York. Unfortunately, you didn’t get Royal York quality food since it was prepared by Cara Foods who also supplied CP Air. The other factor was its somewhat out of the way location, which wasn’t easy to find. It did a good lunch business due to area workers, but it wasn’t sufficient to keep it going. Some of the passenger cars wound up at the Ossawippi Express Dining Cars in Orillia and are still there.
So much for Brett's gushing. According to the Toronto Star, the restaurant was losing $300,000 a year when CP brass decided to axe it. One employee indicated that a low advertising budget didn't help matters.

Source: The Toronto Sun, September 9, 1977. Additional material from the May 28, 1983 edition of the Toronto Star. - JB

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